The Clash of the Titans and Ovid’s Metamorphosis

TheClash of the Titans and Ovid’s Metamorphosis

Thefilm the Clashof the Titanswas produced in 2010 to retell the story of Perseus, the mythicalfigure from Ovid’s othe Metamorphosis.The film is a direct depiction of the adventures of Perseus and howthe character destroys every enemy by turning them into stone.Moreover, the film’s success centers on the use of Medusa’s headto conquer all enemies that Perseus meets on his journeys. Therepresentation of the Greco-Roman mythology in the film is in linewith Ovid’s representation of the triumphs of Perseus. The filmdepicts Medusa as a sensual female character with snakes on her headinstead of the common hair. The sensual appeal of Medusa is enhancedin the film and compared with Ovid’s Medusa who was raped byNeptune and changed into a monster in Minerva’s temple. The men ofArgos have arisen and declared war on the gods as a way of ending theanarchistic stance of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. The essay discussesthe themes of love, transformation, trial of powers, and origin ofthings in the Ovid’s book Metamorphosis and the film the Clashof the Titans.

TheClashof the Titansfilm stars Sam Worthington, who represents the Ovid Perseus.Furthermore, the main Gods in the Ovid mythology are Zeus and Hades,who are represented by Liam Neeson and Ralph Phiennes respectively.Released in 2010 and directed by Louis Leterrier, the film highlightsthe themes of creation, destruction of gothic elements and therebirth of new entities. The main human character in the film isAndromeda played by Alexa Davalos, whom Perseus rescues from the seamonster called the Kraken. Furthermore, the relation between Perseusand Zeus is asserted in the film through the Lighting sword. Zeusconfided the sword with Perseus to protect himself from the vengefulgods as he travelled across vast distances of space. In the film thelightning sword strikes Hades and like a trajectory in motion propelsthe god back to the underworld. Subsequently, after hurling the swordat Hades, it is lost and never found by Perseus.

Ovidcelebrates the cultural truth of tranquility, love, honesty,reverence of gods, and righteousness as a way of reciprocating thenatural love of the creator. After the creation, God “or kindlyNature, ended strife-he cut the land from the skies, the sea fromland, the heavens ethereal from the material air” (Ovid 1:21). Thevalue of peace all over creation was established by the creator God,whereas the gods are seen to bring about strife, which is against thecultural value of peace and tranquility. Ovid paints the gods asirrational for disturbing the value of peace and tranquility.Moreover, the gods conspired to destroy the evil of men fordisobeying to heed to the path of righteousness, “Let themtherefore feel the weight of dreadful penalties so justly earned, forsuch hath my unchanging will ordained” (Ovid bk 1:243). Punishmentfor evil is a major theme that establishes the cultural value ofrighteousness that the Gods demanded of men and lower gods. The valueof honesty is celebrated throughout the book and film, but the godsseem to defy the cultural value many times at the expense of men. Forexample, when Apollo’s cattle wondered and Mercury stole them,Battus saw the theft and the son of Jove choose to reward theforester with a heifer to seal his mouth. However, the honesty withwhich Battus inquired to know the theft from Mercury caused him to beturned into a stone, “Go hence in safety, if it be thy will andshould my tongue betray thee, let that stone make mention of thetheft”(Ovid 2: 695). Mercury wanted to suppress the truth fromBattus and Ovid used the situation to paint the gods’ sons asirrational to obeying cultural values vis-à-vis theirself-interests.

Boththe book and the film highlight the origins of the trial of powersamong the Gods and men and the ill-mannered reciprocity of the younggods over the Titans. The film as the book reveals that Zeus,Poseidon, and Hades overthrew the Titans and took over the reins oftime and space. The three sons of the Titans lacked reciprocity toattack their parents and seize the power of the heavens, the earth,and the underworld by force. Zeus ruled the heavens and created humanbeings and whenever they prayed to him, they ensured his immortality.Similarly, Hades achieved immortality from the agonies and cried ofthe human beings, “I survived on their fear” (The Clash of theTitans 1). While Hades reigned in the underworld, Poseidon becomesthe king of the sea and its realms. However, Hades and Poseidon feltthey were fit to rule the Heavens from Mount Olympus and wanted tooverthrow Zeus. Subsequently, the Kraken represents the power ofHades that frightens even Zeus, “Your reign is over, Brother Zeus”(The Clash of the Titans 1). The power struggle among the three godsis settled in the film by Perseus on a Pegasus back with thelightning sword. At the end of the film, Hades departs to theunderworld after warning Perseus to rule men with a righteous heartto remains relevant, unlike the gods who weakened the mundaneexistence.

TheClash of the Titans film 2010 is similar to the Metamorphosis by Ovidin highlighting the theme of love between Perseus and Andromeda. Thevalue of love as a cultural theme that brings distance peopletogether is highlighted from book 1 through 4. For example, Junoquestions the love Jove after finding him hiding in thick clouds withIo. Although Jove had suspected the entry of the heavenly queen andchanged Io into a cow, Juno remains suspicious and order Io as agift. Afraid that Jove would change Io into human form, Juno placedthe cow under the care of Argus, “so he gave his mistress up toher” (Ovid 1: 621). Jove preferred the value of love for theheavenly queen over his mistress from the river. Thus, the theme oflove emerges in the Ovid’s Metamorphosis and the film when Perseustakes the great risk of rescuing Andromeda from the sea monster.Though Perseus is a demi god, he challenges the gods and even refusesZeus offer to leave the earth and become a god. Perseus’s love forAndromeda is so immense that he refuses all the offers and threatsmade by gods to make him leave the earth.

Reverenceto the Jove and other gods is highlighted throughout the book and thefilm as the source of inspiration and success. The value of payinghomage to gods offers men a way of appreciating the place of the godsin their lives. For example, Cadmus made a “large sacrifice toJupiter and ordered slaves to seek the living springs whose waters inlibation might be poured” (Ovid 3: 26-27). The cultural value ofappreciating gods is designed to use sacrifices, libation, andoffering of salutations to ensure the continuity of the mundaneexistence.

Thefilm asserts the theme of creation as it follows Perseus’ action ofcutting and transporting the head of Medusa. After cutting the headof Medusa, out sprang the flying horse, Pegasus and Chrysaor, who areboth interpreted as the children of Poseidon. The theme of creationand transformation of bodies is emphasized during the cutting andsubsequent actions of Perseus. For example, from the headless neck ofMedusa sprang Pegasus, “Sprung Pegasus, and winged his airy course”(Ovid 4: 786). Seemingly, as the head is hidden inside the kibisis,drops of blood kept dripping from the bag and from these blood dropssprang poisonous snakes. The film shows that the origin of thepoisonous snakes that inhibit the extensive Libyan Desert must be areassociated with the blood drops from Medusa’s head. Ovid statesthat Perseus ran over the Libyan sands with Medusa’s head, “O`erLibyan sands his airy journey sped/ The gory drops distilled, asswift he flew, And from each drop envenomed serpents grew” (Ovid 4:618-620). The Libyan Desert is known to harbor the most poisonousvipers in the modern world and Gorgon’s head is referenced in thefilm and the book as the source of their creation essence.

Transformationof bodies that took place in the Ovid book and the film are bothsustaining and destructive in different ways. For example, thetransformation of Atlas to a mountain range is a dissatisfying trialfor the monarchy. However, the neighboring states that were subjectedto the monarchy were set free because Atlas was no more than astanding mountain with his locks forming the plants, hands andshoulders the ridges, and his crown the steep ascent. Thetransformation of Perseus’ character is shown when he is informedby Zeus how his mother was thrown into the sea and he survived tostop the tyranny of the Gods and kill the Kraken. Zeus reveals thatthe Kraken is the only thing that Gods fear and would like to see itdestroyed. Thus, when rescuing Andromeda, Perseus kills the Kraken byshowing it the head of Medusa and it turns into a stone.

Inconclusion, the Clashof the Titansfilm and Ovid’s Metamorphosis books 1-4 shows the reaction of godsto open rebellion from mortals and the subsequent consequences of thewar. Perseus is able to confine the reaction of the Hades by killingthe Kraken by using Medusa’s head to destroy the enemy thatthreatened even the king of Olympus. Several forms of transformationsof former bodies take place and entities gain new bodies and powers.Atlas was the least in the incidents for losing his monarchy sincePerseus turned him into a mountain. Perseus used medusa’s gaze toturn the Kraken into a stone to save Andromeda, whom he marries.Similarly, the themes of origin of things, power struggles, and loveare discussed at length in the essay.


Clashof the Titans.Dir. LouisLeterrier.Warner Brothers Pictures, 2010. Film.

Ovid.“Metamorphoses.” Trans. Brookes More.,2014.Web.